12 February 2018 0 Comments Posted By : Administrator

In Vancouver, at the heart of Canada’s fentanyl crisis, extreme ‘harm reduction’ efforts that may guide US

Beneath a blue tarp that blocks out a grey sky, Jordanna Coleman inhales the smoke from a heated mixture of heroin and methamphetamine, sucking the addictive vapour deep into her lungs.

The drugs and pipe, acquired elsewhere, are hers. But the shelter, the equipment she uses to prepare her fix and the volunteers standing by to respond if she overdoses are provided by a small non-profit group. Funding and supplies come from the city of Vancouver and the province of British Columbia.

“I was outside. It’s warmer in here,” says Coleman, 22, although the tent is open to the damp and chill of a western Canadian winter. “It’s just safer.”

In barely a year, five sites like this one have opened within a few blocks of one another to contend with a surge of fentanyl on Vancouver’s streets. In December, the organisation that runs this location, the Overdose Prevention Society, took over a vacant building next door, giving users a clean indoor place to inject drugs. There are 29 similar sites in British Columbia, the epicentre of Canada’s drug crisis, and more across the country.

“To save lives, you need a table, chairs and some volunteers,” said Sarah Blyth, the manager here. “We literally popped it up in one day. And then you have people saving lives. Immediately.”

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